March 4, 2024

Disney Lightsaber Inventor Lanny Smoot Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall Of Fame

Lanny Smoot

Lanny Smoot, a Disney Research Fellow and a Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development member, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

This recognition marks him as the first Disney Imagineer to receive this honor and only the second individual from The Walt Disney Company to be inducted.

Lanny Smoot

Smoot’s induction into the Hall of Fame is a personal triumph and testament to his nearly three decades of relentless innovation and creativity at Disney.

“I was honored and humbled at being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame,” said Smoot upon learning of his induction.

“With all of the inventing greats, however, I caught a true lump in my throat when I realized that I was only the second person at The Walt Disney Company being presented with this honor, and the first person was Walt Disney himself.”

With an impressive tally of over 100 patents to his name, Smoot stands as one of the most prolific Black inventors in American history. Notably, 74 of these patents were developed during his 25-year tenure at The Walt Disney Company. 

His contributions span across various domains, including theatrical technology, electrical engineering, and scientific research.

“At Disney Experiences, we’re committed to world-class storytelling, creativity, and innovation in everything we do, and Lanny Smoot embodies every one of those ideals,” said Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Experiences.

Smoot’s Achievements

Among Smoot’s numerous achievements, notable contributions include creating Madame Leota’s floating ability in Disneyland Park’s Haunted Mansion.

He also created the state-of-the-art extendable lightsaber for Disney Live Entertainment and the interactive Magic Playfloor on the Disney Cruise Line.

His work additionally includes the immersive Fortress Explorations adventure at Tokyo DisneySea and the virtual koi ponds at Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel’s Crystal Lotus Restaurant.

For his Hall of Fame induction, Smoot highlighted “Where’s the Fire?” at Innoventions in EPCOT Theme Park.

This interactive exhibit promoted fire prevention and allowed guests to uncover hidden fire hazards using a special flashlight.

Smoot’s contributions have earned him numerous awards, including three Thea Awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).

In 2020, he was honored with the title of TEA Master for his expertise in theatrical technology.

According to Wired, Smoot’s latest project, the HoloTile floor, exemplifies his forward-thinking approach, bringing the Star Trek Holodeck to life.

This groundbreaking technology offers a multi-person, omnidirectional VR experience, demonstrating his continuous influence on the theatrical community and entertainment technology.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.